Five international movies to stream now
“This is not a comedy”
Stream it on Netflix.
A narrative feature from Mexican comedian Gabriel Nuncio, “This Is Not a Comedy” is a weird and daring concoction of wacky, funny and sad. Gabriel, playing himself, is a stand-up comedian in Mexico City who dreams of producing his first screenplay, about an astronaut who travels to Mars. The story seems inspired by Gabriel’s girlfriend, the eccentric Leyre (Cassandra Ciangherotti), who talks to plants and believes aliens will soon arrive to take her away. His bright-eyed curiosity can’t quite penetrate the cynical, broke Gabriel, who is a repeat victim of Murphy’s Law: in a running gag, he keeps forgetting his keys and having to get kicked in by a locksmith. apartment.
“This Is Not a Comedy” takes its title from Gabriel’s plaintive refrain in the film: its script is a drama, but everyone he tells it to – including Mexican actors Cecilia Suárez and Tenoch Huerta, as well as the Armenian-Canadian director Atom Egoyan — is waiting for a comedy. But life, as Gabriel soon realizes, is a bit of both, with a healthy dose of tragedy. This sweet balance of tones elevates Nuncio’s film beyond your usual comedy centered around male losers into a truly moving portrait of both the riches and the hardships of a life in the arts.
Stream it on Mubi.
In the opening scenes of this mysterious Brazilian thriller from Madiano Marcheti, we briefly catch a glimpse of a lithe white figure lying in a vast, windswept field of bright green soybean plants. It’s the only time we actually see the body of Madalena, the transgender woman whose disappearance forms the wound at the heart of this film, bringing together three swirling and tenuous stories. In the first section, we meet Luziane, a brave young woman who works as a bouncer in a club and to whom Madalena owes money. In the second, Cristiano, the obnoxious son of the soybean farm owner, spots the body and begins to worry that it might harm his mother’s election campaign. And in the final section, a group of queer women visit Madalena’s house to collect her belongings and reminisce about their friend.
We never learn much about Madalena, and while her death inflects these tales with an uncanny menace and melancholy, it never really anchors them. The film traces with languor the daily life of the characters, which seems to continue despite everything. The strange and sad banality of Madalena’s tragedy achieves a political blow in the film’s postscript, which cites a sobering statistic: Brazil has the highest murder rate of transgender people in the world.
Stream it on Hulu.
By turns charming and catchy, “Beans” tells a coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of Quebec’s Oka Crisis: In 1990, a dispute over the expansion of a golf course into a cemetery aboriginal led to a 78-day standoff between the Mohawk community of Oka and the police. Using archival footage from news broadcasts to evoke the real and incendiary atmosphere of the crisis, director Tracey Deer creates a remarkable hybrid of fiction and non-fiction, personal and political.
Mohawk middle schooler Tekehentahkhwa, aka Beans, (Kiawentiio) is eager to attend a swanky private school when crisis shatters her innocent little world. Her father joins the front lines of the protest, while her mother attempts to flee town with Beans and her sister, only to be harassed by white residents who throw rocks and call them “savages”. As Beans’ desire for teenage rebellion combines with a righteous new rage, she comes across a group of tough kids, some of whom suffer from poverty and abusive parents. Deer weaves together a number of micro and macro stories of Mohawk life into a gripping portrait, while Kiawentiio winningly portrays Beans’ transition from naive to worldly and outraged, capturing the effects of racism on young children.
Post it on topic.
In its opening scenes, “The Father of Nafi” sounds like a simple story of patriarchal oppression: Nafi, the daughter of the imam of a small Senegalese town, wants to marry her first cousin, Tokara, but her father, Tierno, strongly opposed the idea. However, as Mamadou Dia’s feature film unfolds, it reveals complex narrative layers that coalesce into a larger narrative about radicalization and corruption in rural Senegal.
It turns out that Tokara’s father and Tierno’s brother, wealthy Ousmane, is a conservative Muslim with ties to terrorists and ambitions to become the town’s mayor. For him, marriage is a ploy to win the favor of the community. Tokara and Nafi also have their own plans. They hope that marriage will allow them to be independent from their families and pursue their dreams: Tokara wants to become a dancer; Nafi, neuroscientist.
Each character – including the ailing Saint Tierno – is drawn into a complex negotiation where peace and personal freedom can only come at a high price. Unfolding every turn of the plot with silent control and a neo-realistic texture, Dia weaves a family thriller into a humanistic portrait of a pluralistic community struggling to retain its values.
“Comets,” directed by Georgian filmmaker Tamar Shavgulidze, begins with a nighttime shot of two teenage girls sitting outside on a carpet and staring at a screen. We don’t see the movie they’re watching, only the flickers of light on their faces, as the jangly electronic score evokes science fiction. The sweet magic of this opening lingers on for the rest of the film, which consists almost entirely of conversational scenes in the lush, bucolic courtyard of a middle-aged widow, Nana (Ketevan Gegeshidze). We first see her joking with her daughter over a bowl of freshly picked blackberries; then, suddenly, a stylish city girl, Irina (Nino Kasradze), drives up. The two older women’s tense dialogue slowly reveals that they were once lovers – the young girls seen earlier – who separated when their relationship caused scandal. Serene and deceptively modest, the film cuts between the couple’s long-awaited reunion, fraught with regret and resentment, and twilight scenes from their youth. A beautiful fantasy coda highlights the central ideas of the film: love as a comet from another world; cinema like the night sky, full of possibilities.